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Monstervision Host Segments for

The People Under the Stairs (1991)

"The People Under the Stairs" Intro

"Okay, we have "The People Under the Stairs" up next, but first I wanna remind you that next week is Max night, when we'll be showing the wacky Steven King directorial effort--and I do mean "effort"--Maximum Overdrive, where killer vending machines and such start taking people out. And we'll have the third Mad Max movie, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, starring Mel Gibson, who borrows John Lithgow's wig, and Tina Turner looking fine in chain mail.

Okay, time for a Wes Craven flick. Wes is, of course, one of my favorite filmmakers for about 25 years now. He started out with "Last House on the Left," one of the most brutal geek nightmares ever made. In the mid-seventies he made my personal favorite, "The Hills Have Eyes," great cannibal flick. Of course, the general public knows him best for the original Nightmare on Elm Street and his most recent flicks, Scream and Scream 2. But right now we're gonna watch one of Wes's films that has a very loyal following--"The People Under the Stairs," starring Brandon Adams as the 13-year-old kid who goes to the house of his evil landlords and finds out that they're keeping a little girl prisoner, and there are zombie mutants livin between the walls. It's like every picture Wes makes. You don't get very far into it, and all of a sudden you can't tell where the reality leaves off and the nightmare begins. And you can't figure it out till the very last scene. So I won't say much about it, for those who haven't seen it before. But I will give you those drive-in totals:

Six dead bodies.
One dead dog.
Multiple shotgun wounds.
Fireplace poker placement.
Serious explosives.

Three and a half stars. Okay, go.

[fading] This movie also has humor in it, but I think it's more on purpose. I shouldn't say anything--I should let you make up your own minds. [beat] This one's more goofy, though. Anyway, you'll see. [beat] It's quirky, is what I mean. I'll shut up. The humor on THIS show, of course, is always intentional. What humor? Who said that?"

"The People Under the Stairs" Commercial Break #1

"The great Ving Rhames as Leroy. He's become pretty big playing some great roles the last few years. Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction--the guy who throws his friend out the window for giving his wife a foot massage. Don King in that big cable movie last year that won all the Emmys. "Out of Sight." "Mission Impossible." Irving Rhames.

Wendy Robie is the name of the actress who plays the creepy woman in the house. Pretty weird one, even for Wes Craven. "That THING that lives between the walls." Wes is at his best when he's dealing with houses. Houses are the scariest things in the world, when you think about it. Next to my second ex-wife, that is. Okay, back to the movie.

[fading] Actually, my second ex-wife kinda looked like Wendy Robie. More facial hair, though. That was the actual grounds of divorce when the court papers were filed: "Lack of Electrolysis." [shudders]"

"The People Under the Stairs" Commercial Break #2

"Nasty, funny flick, with some great lines. Now, if you're paying attention, you gotta notice the resemblance to "Alice in Wonderland," right? Complete with the little girl named Alice and all the wicked comedy and the way the whole house is a series of stairways and secret passages and you never quite know where you are. Only this is like "Alice Cooper in Wonderland." It satisfies the first rule of every great horror flick: Anybody can die at any moment. Okay, go.

[fading] The Lewis Carroll classic, "Alice in Wonderland." See, when you mention literature, you just kinda lose em, don't you? They go, "Wha'd Joe Bob say? What is that, a porn movie?" Actually, there IS a porn version. Not a bad movie either. We should do a film series where we show the children's version they use on Nickelodeon, followed by the one they use on the Spice Channel. Compare and contrast."

"The People Under the Stairs" Commercial Break #3

"Okay, so we got the Exposition Scene out of the way. Good thing, too, cause this flick was gettin kinda confusing. "Sometimes 'in' is 'out.'" This is like one horrible parent nightmare after another, but you don't know exactly where it's going. I guess this is the part where it drags in the middle. You know how it always has to drag in the middle? Wouldn't be a movie if it didn't drag in the middle. That was proved by Aristotle. Okay, let's speed it along.

[fading] For those of you who aren't familiar with the great work "The Poetics," it's a Greek treatise, setting out the elemental principles of all dramatic expression, and it was written, of course, by Aristotle Onassis."

"The People Under the Stairs" Commercial Break #4

"Daddy just goes crazy with that shotgun, doesn't he? "Never shoot your gun outside!" One of my favorite lines. That actor is Everett McGill, and I think the idea here is that he's doing every dang thing that you always THOUGHT might be going on inside that house at the end of the street where the family with the guard dog lived, right? And you would tell your mother and she would go "Well, they're just DIFFERENT, you be nice to em." And you'd say "But, mom, they were shooting a rifle at us all day." And she'd say "Well, I'm sure it was okay." Parents NEVER GET IT, do they? This could actually happen.

[fading] Did any of you guys have parents?"

"The People Under the Stairs" Commercial Break #5

"The only Wes Craven movie where people walk around sayin "Dang it" and "Shut the faith up." Or could that be TNT? Hmmm . . .

And Everett McGill, the ultimate Monster Daddy, dressed up in head-to-toe black leather like Hannibal Lechter going to a party. What's the deal with those leather zip-up zoot suits? You see those everywhere now. If you put one of those on, do women go "Oh, I just LOVE IT when you look like an Italian sectional sofa"? I mean, what is the deal with that? "Look at me, I'm dressed up like a cat toy." They always say it's something from your childhood that makes you like stuff like that, right? So what could happen in your childhood to make you wanna suffocate yourself in a leather duffel bag? Did you get beat up by a gay biker or something? Anyhow, if anybody knows what this is about, send me a letter, gimme a clue here. Okay? Back to the flick.

[fading] He just looks so WEIRD in that thing. . . . Do they sell those here?"

"The People Under the Stairs" Commercial Break #6

"I'm Joe Bob Briggs. This is "MonsterVision." And right now we're watchin the modern child-abuse classic "The People Under the Stairs." You can beat up the little boogers, but in the nineties, they're gonna turn into the guys from Kiss and fight back. Now for the conclusion, where the rug rats triumph over Nazi child-snatchin step-parents everywhere.

[fading] A lot of these Wes Craven movies have a cultural and sociological message. Like the sociological message of this one is, "If your step-parents are mean, find the fire poker and learn how to use it."

"The People Under the Stairs" Outro

"Talk about throwing money at the problem. There you have it--cash raining down on the ghetto, driving out the influence of evil landlords. From the mind of Wes Craven. That movie has a lot of levels to it. I must've seen it four or five times now, and I see new stuff every time.

Okay, I wanna remind you that next week we have the Steven King Hall-of-Famer Maximum Overdrive. I'm it's in SOME Hall of Fame somewhere. And we'll also have Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which I know one or two of you missed when we showed it last month. Should be a fun night.

That's it for me, Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that a day without sunshine is like . . . night.

Did you guys hear the one about the cop who pulls over a guy who's been weaving? Cop goes up to the guy's window and says, "Sir, I need you to blow into this breathalyzer tube."
Guy says, "Sorry, officer, I can't do that. I'm an asthmatic. If I do that, I'll have a really bad asthma attack."
The cop says, "Okay, fine, then I need you to come down to the station and give a blood sample."
Guy says, "I can't do that either. I'm a hemophiliac. If I do that, I'll bleed to death."
"Well, then, we need a urine sample," the cop says.
Guy says, "I'm sorry, officer, I can't do that either. I'm also a diabetic. If I do that, I'll get really low blood-sugar."
Cop says, "All right, then I need you to come out here and walk this white line."
Guy says, "I can't do that, officer."
Cop says, "Why not?"
Guy says, "Because I'm drunk."

Joe Bob Briggs, reminding you that the drive-in will never die.

[fading] Guy walks into a bar and sits down, orders a beer. As he sips his beer, he hears a voice say, "Nice tie." He looks around, doesn't see anybody but him and the bartender at the other end of the bar. A few sips later, same voice says, "Beautiful shirt." Guy calls the bartender over and says, "I must be losing my mind. I keep hearing voices saying nice things, but there's no one in here but us." Bartender says, "It's the peanuts." Guy says, "What?" Bartender says, "It's the peanuts. They're complimentary."

Dentist walks in with two cotton balls and says, "This may hurt a little bit." Then he sticks the cotton in his own ears.

"People Under The Stairs" is/are available on video and
will be on DVD in time for Halloween, 2003

Other stuff by Wes Craven available on video and on DVD


Hi Joe Bob!
Here's my question. Unless I was asleep at the wheel so to speak, there has not been a Joe Bob cooking class on MonsterVision. I think you've covered just about everything else but this. Have you done a show involving Briggsian cuisine?
My two suggestions are:
1. Texas chili.
2. Maybe a stew where the dismembered heads of TNT's Paul & Annabelle are bobbing around in clear view.
It's not that I don't care for your TNT peers. But, was this some sort of desperate attempt by TNT to suck in the generation-X'ers or yuppies or whatever the heck they represent????
Anyway, I didn't intend to bring up any hidden agendas or TNT icon hatreds, but I really would like to see you tie on an apron and show your kitchen prowess to the viewing audience.
Thanks for having this forum for MonsterVision viewers and Joe Bob worshippers worldwide.
Elaine Puricelli
(Editor's note: Dinner and a Movie, hosted by Paul Gilmartin and Annabelle Gurwitch, appears on TBS)
Dear Elaine,
You've obviously missed our three episodes of "Dinner and a Six-Pack," in which I've prepared, among other things, Wild Boar Casserole and a "prisoner special" called Nacho Hook-Up. On all three occasions I have made merciless fun of "Dinner and a Movie" in an effort to get a rise out of them or incite a retatliatory show. They have proved dull to the point of incomprehension.
Preciate the suggestion, though. Brilliant minds think alike, etc.
Hang in there,
Joe Bob
Dear Joe Bob,
You were asking if anyone could explain the appeal of the "Italian sectional sofa" look, as demonstrated by that guy played by Everett McGill in "People under the Stairs"
I believe there are two factors at work here. The exact degree to which one views such things with alarm is up to the individual, of course, but I think you'll agree that Something Must Be Done.
Factor Numero Uno:
A single leather garment can be attractive and evocative. The smell, the feel, the look, etc. If the lovely Rusty has ever deigned to wear a leather skirt or jacket in your presence, I think you can imagine what I mean. While Wes Craven is a cinematic genius, and someone I'd quite like to have lunch with just for the heck of it, he seems to be of the More Is More, and More Means Better school. If the ladies think James Dean in a leather jacket is cool/sexy/dangerous/not entirely repellent, why then it follows that Everett McGill, while admittedly no James Dean, will be that much more sexy/terrifying if he's clad in tight, studded leather from top to bottom. What this proves, alas, is that sometimes More is Too Much. Also, that Canadians should probably not be allowed to run around in tight clothing, which brings me to...
Factor the Second
Everett McGill appeared in "Dune," wearing a tight rubber suit that was supposed to conserve bodily moisture or something like that. I'm thinking that maybe he liked it a little *too* much if you know what I mean and you know the rest of it. Perhaps McGill insisted that he be allowed to wear tight bodysuits in uncomfortable materials as part of his compensation for doing the movie.
And wasn't he married to Wendy Robie on Twin Peaks?
Your faithless viewer,
Emily Gifford
Dear Emily,
First of all, never ever invite me to a free meal unless you mean it, because I'm liable to show up.
Second, if you're implying that Everett McGill is a little lean in the leotards, and that in fact he requires oxygen deprivation caused by tight shiny black leather constricting his arteries, so as to fully express his Everettness, then I would have to say you've arrived at a level of genre-movie deconstructionism into the depths of which I have heretofore been reluctant to plunge. If you're saying that Wes Craven did it because it just plain LOOKS NASTY, then I completely agree with you.
Joe Bob
Dear Joe Bob,
Last night, while watching Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, my wife and I noticed something that we could just not figure out. Why didn't Auntie "?" (Tina Turner) blow him away at the end? I mean, he had just wrecked her utopia, and let the little Tarzan/cowboy genius midget escape- why wouldn't she just blow him away at the end? My wife also pointed out something that seems to be one of her pet peeves. Why, when people are dying of thirst in the desert and they find a canteen of water, do they spill half of it on their faces? I mean, you'd think they'd be extra careful having just experienced a near death situation -- can you explain this?
Jack and Julie Henderson
Dear Jack and Julie,
Well, maybe you missed my commentary there at the end, but I made this same point when I said that Tina Turner lets him go to wander the desert, thereby to completely copy the first "Road Warrior" even though it doesn't make sense here. And yes, the throwing of water on the face is one of my desert-movie peeves, but it's nothing compared to the one where, when they run out of water, they throw their empty canteens down in the dirt! So if, five minutes later they come to a spring, they have nothing to PUT THE DAMN WATER IN!
Thank you for letting me rant there for a minute.
Joe Bob

If you enjoy people under the stairs, check out Joe Bob Brigg's reviews of all three Basket Case movies

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Host segment transcript of 12-26-98 broadcast
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